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The 36 th ASEAN Summit: Assessing COVID Pandemic and the Future

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The 36 th ASEAN Summit: Assessing COVID Pandemic and the Future

On June 26, 2020, the 36th Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit was held
through an online video conference for the first time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 36th ASEAN Summit was hosted by Vietnam, with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc
chairing the event. The theme for this year’s Summit was “Cohesive and Responsive
ASEAN,”planned in response to COVID-19 that has destructively affected the countries of the
ASEAN; heads of state or government of each ASEAN country also attended.
This year’s ASEAN Summit focused on the controlling and responding to the effects of the
COVID-19 pandemic, and addressed the need for the region for a response fund for the COVID-
19, which resulted in the established for the aforementioned fund, as well as a medical supply
reserve to meet the demands for future epidemics. Furthermore, the Summit also created a
regional response plan for any health emergencies that could arise in the future.
It also stressed the fact that the economy of the ASEAN region will suffer together for the first
time in 22 years, due the impact of the coronavirus. Moreover, due to the nature of the
economies in the region, nations that rely heavily on tourism and trade like Thailand and
Vietnam will suffer much harsher blows to their economy. The Summit called for changes in the
ASEAN to tackle the current pandemic, as well prepare for any future situations of similar kind,
in order to better prepare the region.
Another issue of focus is the South China Sea dispute. The dispute boils over China’s claim over
the sea, however, this claim is also contested by the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and
Vietnam, the latter of which, also accuses China for sinking a Vietnamese vessel. The Summit
also covered the involvement of the USA, who had sent navy vessels to patrol the area, a move
that was heavily criticized as interference of an outside matter in regional affairs. Furthermore,
the leaders also went over the claims that China had over 80 islands and land within South
China, which triggered the Philippines and Vietnam to lodge protests against it as parts of these
islands had fallen within their own territories. However, the Summit also reiterated the
importance of restraint and refraining from escalating tensions and disputes in accordance to
international laws.
Aside from the major issues of the South China Sea and the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN
Summit also moved to promote the future trade and economic development post-pandemic.

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